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Chavis Sues LSU

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Our legal beagle breaks it down

Game on
Game on
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Coughlin's Law: Things always end badly, or else they wouldn't end.

It's safe to say that the Chavis-LSU divorce is officially ugly, now that Chavis has filed suit against LSU for breach of contract. Chavis went to the 272nd District Court in Brazos County, Texas to file. Now, I can't imagine why he would do a thing like that?

Oh, because Texas A&M is located in Brazos County. When litigation seems inevitable, it's always best to be the side that picks its forum by filing first. I think it's pretty clear who won the race to courthouse.

Essentially, Chavis' argument is that the term of his contract with LSU ended on December 31, 2015 and per the terms of the contract, he would not incur a penalty for terminated the contract in the last 11 months of the term. So, that meant the first day he could terminate the contract without cause and walk away free of any liability was January 31, 2015.

Of course, Chavis didn't terminate his contract then, he terminated his contract right after the bowl game. Or did he?

According to his petition, Chavis turned in his 30-day notice terminate his employment on January 5th, which would make his last day February 5th. That would, according to his argument, mean that Chavis did not terminate his contract until within the last 11 months of the deal.

What doesn't make sense is that his petition also claims that Joe Alleva demanded that Chavis pay the university $400,000 in liquidated damages on January 2nd. For those of you scoring at home, that would be two days BEFORE Chavis claims he gave proper 30-day notice of his termination.

Now, why would Alleva spontaneously ask Chavis for $400,000 in liquidated damages for breach of contract if Chavis hadn't already, you know, breached the contract? The petition is silent on this issue, but you can bet your bottom's dollar LSU will bring it up in their counterclaim. Especially when they start throwing around terms like "baseless" and "frivolous complaint".

I do give Chavis points for a creative legal argument. He's claiming that even though he said "I quit" on January 4, those words weren't effective until February 4. Even better, he didn't provide notice that he was quitting until somehow LSU already knew he was quitting. He's trying to set up an argument that it was LSU that breached first, firing him before he had the chance to quit. And when he provided 30-day notice of his termination, LSU waived those 30-days solely to stay within the period in which Chavis would incur a penalty. That would also make LSU the breaching party. So he's got two bullets in his legal gun.

This is par for the course. When one party sues for breach of contract, it's almost guaranteed the other party will sue him right back for breach. Both sides are arguing that the other one is the bad guy, and the breaching party. Because whether LSU gets a check from Chavis really depends on that question: who breached first?

So what does LSU do now? Well, they sue right back and try and get the case moved back to the friendly confines of Baton Rouge. The contract almost certainly has a choice of venue clause which states any litigation needs to be in Baton Rouge courts. Furthermore, it makes perfect sense. This contract was formed in Baton Rouge, performed in Baton Rouge, and then terminated in Baton Rouge. The lawsuit should be there, too. I'm not sure what their jurisdictional hook is for Brazos County, other than the fact Chavis is there now.

Really, this just drags Texas A&M to the dispute, and makes it all the more likely LSU will accuse A&M of tortious interference with an existing contract. Now, there's your jurisdictional hook to Brazos County, punk.

Honestly, this likely never sees the inside of a courtroom. This is all just a move by Chavis to lower the buyout, as he doesn't have $400,000 lying around. LSU is playing hardball with Chavis, and now he's playing hardball right back. The question is, how far is he willing to go with this? Because there's really no chance LSU just rolls over and takes it.